5th Athens Biennale Loses Co-Director and Program Manager Mid-Way Through Proceedings

No explanation was given for the sudden double exit.

ΑΒ5to6: The co-founders of Athens Biennale (far left: Poka Yio, far right: Xenia Kalpaktsoglou) with Massimiliano Mollona, former Programme Director of the Athens Biennale 2015-2017 “OMONOIA” Photo: © Νysos Vasilopoulos, courtesy the Athens Biennale.

There has been a shake up in the organisation of the Athens Biennale. Mid-way through its fifth installment, the biennale’s co-director, Xenia Kalpaktsoglou, as well as its program director, Massimiliano Mollona, are bowing out.

After 10 years at the helm, Xenia Kalpaktsoglou, who was also one of the biennale’s three founding members, has announced that she is stepping down. One of the other founding members, visual artist Poka-Yio (Polydoros Karyofyllis), will pick up the directorial mantle for the ongoing 5th Biennale, titled OMONOIA (Concord), which is currently under way.

Kalpaktsoglou leaves behind a legacy for the young biennale. Under the epithet of curatorial trio XYZ, she curated the 1st Athens Biennale in 2007, ironically titled Destroy Athens; the annual curatorial project XYZ Outlet (2010-11); and together with Nicolas Bourriaud and Poka-Yio, the 3rd Athens Biennale, MONODROME, of 2011. As co-director of the biennale, she headed the production department, and was instrumental in the institution’s networking in Greece and abroad through various curatorial initiatives, lectures, and publications.

A statement from the biennale press team categorizes Kalpaktsoglou’s withdrawal as the end to “a decade of fruitful and creative collaboration.”

Mollona organized and directed the biennale’s first of series of events and talks, which he dubbed “synapses.” His perspective as an academic, writer, filmmaker, and anthropologist set the tone of OMONOIA as a space “where the realm of the political is reframed through the lenses of art.”

Mollona was also behind the experimental structure of the 5th Athens Biennale: Contrary to the usual biennial model, OMONOIA launched in November of last year and is set to continue into 2017.  Thus far, it has been characterized by a series of talks and projects inspired by the curatorial framework that Mollona established at the beginning of his role.

According to a statement from the biennial  OMONOIA is set to resume its program soon.


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